In my more rebellious youth I graffitied my brown paper bag book covers with the iconic, bold black bars of the Black Flag logo. I listened to the Rollins Band at volumes loud enough to cause both temporary hearing and memory loss. The music, driving and primal, spoke to young me on a level older me has trouble reconciling with now. I remember those days with the fondness of misunderstood youth and the rage to escape the gilded cage and set loose upon the world.
I’ve only caught one of your spoken word shows and I honestly can’t remember when it was. It has to have been almost 10 years ago. The timing isn’t really important, who I was with isn’t really important. The experience and the profound effect it had on me is. I remember being crammed into Jacksonville’s old Club 5 with hordes of other 20-30 somethings sipping cranberry and vodkas, smoking Djarum Specials. Wearing black, acting tough, all boots, elbows, and give ‘em hell snarls. I was so fucking cool.
Hours later, lungs on fire, my voice a mere shadow of what it was, I was drunkenly weaving through the throngs of people desperate to get to the merch table. I had to buy everything I could get my hands on. I felt… like some wall in my mind I didn’t even know existed had just been bashed repeatedly by a wrecking ball. I emptied my wallet and walked away with Talk is Cheap Vol. 1-4 and Nights Behind the Tree Line.
You, Mr. Rollins, single-handedly opened my eyes and my heart to the world outside myself. Sometimes when keeping up with the news makes me so disgusted with the human race I just want to drive off a cliff, I wish I’d never crossed your path. But, most of the time when I hear your voice on a podcast, audio book, commercial, movie, etc. the goosebumps roll in and with them memories of young me at the start of my journey, a path I’m still on, and I find myself smiling. Because in this shit life, struggling for nothing amounts to nothing, so you have to pick your battles and make sure it’s something worthy of a fight. You taught me that.
Henry Rollins, you are a beautiful, fierce, beast of a man and I am in your debt.
I found an older podcast to keep me company on the stormy ride home today, have a listen – Nerdist Podcast: Henry Rollins